With obesity at an all time high and on the rise, it seems that a lot of health advice given these days is centered around losing weight. Somewhere in the mix, fats have gotten a bad reputation. The truth is, we actually do need some fats in our diet in order for our bodies to function properly! Not all fats are created equally, however, and the healthy -and unhealthy- options may not be what you expected.
We Need Fat!
Fats give us energy, just like the other macronutrients, and are also necessary for our bodies to carry certain vitamins and minerals to where they need to go. We also need them to produce the right levels of hormones, and maintain healthy organs – especially our skin!
Not all fats are created equally, however. There are three categories that fats can fit into:
Unsaturated fat – typically liquid at room temperature, from plant sources. These types of fats will ideally make up the majority of your fat intake.
Saturated fat – typically solid at room temperature from both plant and animal sources. These types of fats should be used in moderation.
Trans fat – Highly processed fats that undergo “hydrogenation” to make them more shelf stable. These fats are ideally avoided.
Both unsaturated fats and saturated fats have their place in a healthy, balanced diet. The key when choosing any of your food is to aim for those that are as minimally processed as possible. Some of the healthiest sources of fat are nuts, seeds and some fruits, like avocado. Other whole-food sources include dairy (like butter and whole-fat cheese), coconut, and meat.
Yes, animal sources can be a part of a healthy diet too!
Fats to Avoid
Trans fats, on the other hand, are so processed that they no longer have much to offer nutritionally. They are best used sparingly. Trans fats are typically found in pre-packaged foods like:
You don’t have to avoid fat at all costs to be healthy. In fact, you’ll feel better in the long run by choosing naturally sourced fats that nourish your body. You can maintain a healthy weight while eating certain fats – your skin and health will be better for it, too.